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Strategic agreement set to tackle technology challenges

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, with Dr Alvin Wilby, Vice President Research, Technical & Innovation (RTI) for Thales UK Bhagesh Sachania Photography

Press release issued: 9 March 2017

The University of Bristol has been chosen by global technology company Thales Group to be its first strategic partner university in the UK, in a move which will lead to new research and education opportunities.

The agreement strengthens an existing relationship, where Thales has worked with Bristol for 20 years on several joint UK and European Union based research projects, while supporting over 15 doctoral students.

A strategic agreement was signed yesterday [8 March], signifying a commitment to work together on the key challenges that confront modern engineering teaching and technology research.

Following on from similar programmes across the globe, this is the first dedicated strategic partnership Thales has entered into with a UK university.

Thales are experts in the aerospace, transport, defence and security markets. It employs 64,000 employees in 56 countries, with 6,500 people based in the UK across 12 sites, including Bristol.

Teams in the UK have worked on in-flight entertainment systems currently used by 130,000 passengers a day, the security for information systems used by 19 of the world's 20 largest banks, and sensors used by the Royal Navy to allow them to operate effectively at sea.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol said: "We're very excited to sign this strategic agreement with Thales and look forward to seeing the exciting new technology which will be developed in partnership with our students and researchers in the future.

"Such a partnership offers our staff and students a unique insight into real-life research challenges across a variety of sectors, and an opportunity to develop solutions to some key technological and societal challenges."

Working with research groups across the University, but focusing its activity in the Engineering Faculty, Thales will look to develop a programme of work around security, communications, sensors, autonomy and complex systems.

Marko Erman, Thales Chief Technical Officer, said: "Thales has a real capacity to innovate through collaboration across the entire high-tech ecosystem, including with start-ups and universities. We are proud to broaden our partnerships by working with the University of Bristol, which has excellent research facilities and high quality students looking at complex technical challenges."

Stuart Tower is a graduate of the University’s Engineering Mathematics degree course. He joined the Thales Internship Programme in summer 2012, and returned for the Graduate Scheme after completing his degree in July 2013.

Stuart, now a Senior Research Scientist in Thales UK’s research department, said: "One of the best things about working here is the opportunity to create innovative solutions to complex problems; you really get to work at the cutting edge of technology.

"As well as this, the variety of the work always keeps things interesting. I've worked on things ranging from advanced communications networking for submarines, algorithms for health monitoring of network rail assets through to research strategy & activity management, and much more.

"This breadth of opportunity has given me a strong foundation to progress my career in the direction I want, and Thales UK are giving me the support I need to accomplish my goals."

Further information

About Thales

Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. With 64,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €14.9 billion in 2016. With over 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements. Its exceptional international footprint allows it to work closely with its customers all over the world.

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